Ben Thompson of Stratechery has published a (another) great post on understanding AMP and the reasons behind its lure for publishers and success amongst users on web. It’s a must read to better understand how (and why) Google is aggressively pushing AMP across its product lines.
And of course, he also talks about the core argument against AMP – it’s an open, but still a proprietary standard from Google. And they are blatantly exploiting their monopoly in search and online advertising while promoting it.
The problem with Google’s actions should be obvious: the company is leveraging its monopoly in search to push the AMP format, and the company is leveraging its dominant position in browsers to punish sites with bad ads. That seems bad!
There is no better example than Google’s actions with AMP and Chrome ad-blocking: Google is quite explicitly dictating exactly how it is its suppliers will access its customers, and it is hard to argue that the experience is not significantly better because of it.
Yes, clearly Google wants to improve the end user experience by giving them a “better, leaner web” with AMP. Are they being monopolistic along the way? Definitely. Uncompetitive? Absolutely.
What happens when protecting consumer welfare requires acting uncompetitively?
Now that’s a loaded question — given that web is spoilt deeply with horrific and utter garbage ads spewed across, what other options remain than such hardball tactics?
I do not believe there is a convincing answer to that yet. I am sure the proponents of the open web, myself included, simply do not like Google’s utter disregard for standards in AMP. There are abundance of examples/opinions on problems with AMP.
What’s worrisome for me though is the fact that Google is markedly focused on elevating AMP’s experience on its own browser and in its own search. What if this experience of the web served by Google’s platforms turns so much better that eventually that becomes the only web user know of?